Most Americans are puzzled by the events centered on Ferguson, Mo. Judging from the reactions online, many Americans see this as a form of insanity. The riots and other acts to disrupt peace seem irrational and disproportionate. A common comment on online news services voiced the sentiments of many very clearly, “Is this really what America has become? Are we now a nation that accepts it as normal to burn down buildings, loot businesses, and block the morning commute on a major interstate as a legitimate form of freedom of expression?”
One of the themes in the book, Return To Order: from a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society, by John Horvat II is about the two currents that are influencing our country. The first current is an explosion of frenzied intemperance driven by self-gratification . The counterpart is the spirit of honor and the spirit of the family based on self-sacrifice. This first current is clearly in control in what will be dubbed by history books as the Ferguson Riots.
The riots quickly spread well outside of Ferguson, Mo., a suburb to the north of St. Louis. According to an online map posted by The Huffington Post, over 100 riots were organized all over the country the day after the grand jury ruling was announced. All the riots adopted the same slogans and implemented similar tactics: block traffic, stop businesses, create chaos and destroy peace. Curiously, it was not a racial phenomenon.
Rioters blocked traffic in several cities. One such example was in San Diego where college students brazenly blocked Interstate traffic on the morning of November 26. The students stood in a line across the northbound side of I-5 holding signs promising that there would be no peace unless there is justice. They were eventually instructed by the police to leave the highway. The delay backed up the morning commute for hours, even preventing nurses and doctors from attending to their patients.
The burning and the looting had become a common scene as well. Several stores were intentionally put to the torch. Many shops were broken into and looted including those outside of Ferguson. Not surprisingly, the store that 18-year-old Michael Brown robbed was vandalized. What was ironic, however, is that the church where Brown’s mother was recently baptized was destroyed by rioters. There were millions of dollars of damages to businesses and property. It cost several states millions of dollars to man the police and security forces nationwide. And as of the Wednesday evening after the grand jury’s ruling was announced, another African American life was lost. A 20-year-old male, who happened to be a friend of Brown, was found shot to death the morning after the riots.
It is the nature of frenzy to exercise neither reason nor moderation. None of these actions made sense. Nothing was proportional. This is what makes the Ferguson Riots incomprehensible to many Americans.
Many Americans are asking: “Why would you burn down a store or a church to protest injustice? Why would you disrupt the regular lives of millions, the great majority of whom are neither police officers nor involved with the grand jury? Why should all of society be punished as if the rioters are the innocent ones and the rest of society, the non-rioters, the guilty?”
This trend did not start with the Ferguson Riots. This has been a growing trend in the past few decades. It can be characterized by one of the most shocking sentiments voiced by one of the rioters, Michael Brown’s stepfather, “Burn it down. Burn it down,” shouting to the crowd gathered around them after the verdict was released. Instead of fixing what is broken, they wanted it destroyed. And burn they did.
There was a similar attitude with the Rodney King riots, the looters after Katrina, Sandy and the chaotic behavior of the Occupy Movement. Instead of helping fix what’s broken in our country. They rioted, looted and further destabilize an already unstable America.
The end result was the same acts of frenzy that led to the destabilization of society.
These actions are done by individuals who think of nothing but themselves. They value neither social virtues nor civility. Civility has long been the cornerstone of secular virtues. This is the first of all commandments of the co-op spirit defined in Return To Order. It is the spirit of getting along no matter the differences so life can be enjoyed to its fullest. Civility has always championed moderation between opposing opinions regarding religion, politics and ideology. This is possible as long as civility is kept. Civility has been the moderator in many a discussion during Thanksgiving dinners, the eulogies at funerals or toasts at weddings.
As individuals grow increasingly self-centered, the more they move away from social virtues. The co-op quickly falls apart. Civility is soon abandoned. The result is the Ferguson Riots.
Yet, there is another America. It is the one influenced by the spirit of honor and of the family. This current also wants change. This is the current that has become the true face of America. This can be seen in the fight for the rights of the unborn. This is the current that can march up Constitution Avenue in the hundreds of thousands without setting a single shop on fire. Those in this current gather every year on the Saturday closest to October 13, the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s Miracle of the Sun, to pray for the complete conversion of America and the world. In 2014, there were 12,629 individual rosary rallies in the public square with attendance ranging from 10 to 500, again without a single store looted.
Examples of those in this the current can be seen in people who came to the aid of an old man in Ferguson whose car was hijacked by rioters or the Papa John’s manager who prevented her shop from being vandalized by talking down the rioters. Those in this current rushed up the falling Twin Towers to save one more person.
As the nation watches stunned at the breakdown of civility all throughout the country, we cannot forget that this is not the only face of America. There are the honest God-fearing Americans who are guided by the spirit of the family.
These are the ones who understand that the nation cannot be held together by civility alone but by true charity where God is loved above all and our neighbors as ourselves. These are the ones who understand that their neighbors and the whole country are an extension of the family. And, when a family has problems, one simply doesn’t burn it down. One sacrifices oneself to save it.